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Old 12-10-2018, 02:03 PM   #1
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Use RV generator to power my house?

A snow storm knocked out our house electricity 1.5 days ago. We're staying in the DSDP with full tanks of diesel and propane, meaning that we're OK for several days (except for no water due to winterizing). This situation makes me wonder if somehow the RV generator could be used to supply electricity to our house. I have a roll-about gas generator and know how to pull the meter and connect it to the house, so there's no problem on that side of connecting, but I haven't done it because staying in the RV prevents the need. Is there a means, without un-common effort or expense, to get full generator power from the RV generator to run the house? Without listing them all, there would be multiple benefits from this. Can any RV-generator wizards among you tell me if this might be do-able without being too-big or too-expensive of a project?
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:19 PM   #2
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What generator do you have?
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:25 PM   #3
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:32 PM   #4
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Your 8000 watt generator provides 66 amps of 120 volt power, max. So, no it will not power your house, ever, the math doesn't work. It will power three 20 amp circuits therein, so you get to chose which ones. I run two 100' extension cords from my rig to my house. Each I limit to provided 15 amps to run a heater and fan and maybe phone chargers and the like
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:37 PM   #5
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The quick answer is "sure it will work." The details are another matter.


The primary thing is a transfer switch or other means of disconnecting your home from your electrical utility. You absolutely do not want to 'back feed' the PoCo and endanger the lives of the linemen/women who are hooking things back up.


Next you need a way to prevent overloading of your generator (besides the circuit breakers on your genny) as required by Electrical Code.


You need a way to connect the genny to the transfer switch (or whatever kludge you end up using) that meets Code.


Avoid the temptation to do any wiring that *could* leave energized connector parts exposed if disconnected (particularly the male-to-male Edison cords).


If you need to operate your home refrigerator or similar item(s) consider running an extension cord from your RV directly to the appliance. If you want to power your entire home this isn't a good time to think about it - "necessity" makes for unsafe and inadvisable "solutions".
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:42 PM   #6
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My primary concern in the house is heat. Several years ago I cut the wire to the furnace and put a NEMA plug in line so I could simply plug it into an extension cord to the generator when we lost power in the dead of winter. For me, the furnace and the refrigerator and freezer were the biggest concerns that are easily plugged in and don’t require a ton of power.
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Old 12-10-2018, 02:51 PM   #7
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The 1st desirable items to run are our home heat and two water heaters, both of which are gas, so only the controls and fan would consume electricity. The #2 desired items are the refrigerator, a freezer, and the more lightweight electrics (lighting + phones, tablets, laptops) are the main desired items. I would expect that the oven and rangetop might be too much, but It would be nice to use the microwave and maybe even the dish+clothes washers (the dryer is gas), but I could turn them off at the breaker box if they'd be a problem.
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Old 12-10-2018, 03:01 PM   #8
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A few years back our power was knocked out by a small tornado. No power for three days. I brought our motorhome to the house and ran a heavy-duty extension cord into the house to power the fridge, a few LED lamps and our two fish tanks. It worked just fine. It was in the summer, so no heat required. Our driveway is sloped so we did not stay in the motorhome, but slept in the house. Hot and humid it was, but at least our fish and food in the fridge survived.
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Old 12-10-2018, 03:39 PM   #9
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I just talked with a neighbor who's running a 12K to completely service his daughter's all-electric house. Since I have much running on gas, this idea of running my house off my 8K RV generator seems fairly feasible. I think I'll look into this with an electrician when warm weather returns. It could be part of a combination job, as I've really wanted to add a 50 amp circuit out to the coach so that the a/c could be run when we have extra guests visiting. Thanks to all of you for the pro/con discussion. If anyone has actual done this entire set-up, please share your experience.
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Old 12-10-2018, 04:32 PM   #10
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You could install a GenerLink on your meter base. If your generator is only 120 volts , you would also have to purchase a 120 to 240v transformer. With the generlink you will be able to select the circuits in the house you need and have to turn the other circuit breakers off to prevent overloading of the generator. They come in a 30 or 40 amp version.
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Old 12-10-2018, 04:47 PM   #11
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8k is plenty with some care.

At the RV transfer switch, I wired the generator feed to an outlet and the transfer switch with a plug in. Unplugging this takes the RV off the generator entirely.
Then you need a patch cord from the outlet to the house. Proper way is through a transfer switch as others have mentioned. Improper way is into a breaker with the main supply off.
You decide.

I suppose you could put the plug/outlet after the RV transfer switch to allow the bus to charge it's batteries and whatnot while the genny runs.
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Old 12-10-2018, 05:25 PM   #12
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Transfer switch is the best way to go. Other methods are technically illegal, and probably for good reason - If you kill a lineman because you didn't flip the right breaker, you'll wish you hadn't skimped on the transfer switch.

We have a 7500 watt diesel generator in the RV. We dug a ditch from the garage to the house and buried a line. Installed the transfer switch in the house, and put a 50 amp plug on the RV. Basically, we literally plug the house into the generator, fire it up, pull the transfer switch, and we're good to go. There are certain breakers that get turned off in the service panel so we don't overload the generator. 7500 watts is more than enough to keep the electric hot water tank, water pump, fridge, furnace, and all the lights running without an issue.

This is one of the justifications I made to own an RV with a diesel generator... we can have extended power outages here (which has never happened) and live for weeks on a single tank of diesel fuel if we ration generator time. It's not as slick as an automatic standby generator, and no you cant turn EVERYTHING on in the house, but you can supply power to the whole house.

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Old 12-10-2018, 05:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LPerry View Post
8k is plenty with some care.

At the RV transfer switch, I wired the generator feed to an outlet and the transfer switch with a plug in. Unplugging this takes the RV off the generator entirely.
Then you need a patch cord from the outlet to the house. Proper way is through a transfer switch as others have mentioned. Improper way is into a breaker with the main supply off.
You decide.

I suppose you could put the plug/outlet after the RV transfer switch to allow the bus to charge it's batteries and whatnot while the genny runs.
We put the plug on the RV for the house so that the genny can charge the batteries in the RV. I had a very specific reason for this...

...we have a Froling wood gasification boiler in the basement for heat - the system uses 1000 gallons of thermal storage. On an average winter day, we burn the boiler for approximately 4-5 hours to bring this storage mass up to temp, and then the rest of the day the house is heated from the hot water stored in the tanks - no fire in the boiler. The house uses low temp radiant floor heat to keep us warm, so there's lots and lots of usable BTU's in those tanks. I piped the system so that we can heat the entire house by running just a single 120v circulator pump - which can be powered by a single and very cheap modified sine wave inverter... off the RV batteries.

So if the power goes out in the winter, we could run the generator for 4 or 5 hours while the wood boiler charges the storage tanks... and the converter in the RV charges the batteries... and then use the house batteries to power the circulator pump to heat the house for the other 19 or 20 hours.

No, we're not preppers... Just the options we have, given the tools that were already at our disposal.

cheers
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Old 12-10-2018, 05:42 PM   #14
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8K Onan will not supply 240 volt to the house as i only has one 120 volt output. You need a 10 or 12.5K that supplies 120 volts on L1 and L2, that provides 240 output to the house.
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